A winter’s brew day
This week I set out to brew 2, 3 or possibly 4 batches of beer. I figured since I will be starting my Master’s (in statistics) in January, I probably will not have so much time to brew… so stock up. It turns out Christmas is really soon and I had much left to do to get ready… so only two batches were made. The first was an APA, ‘hundredth ale‘. This beer marked my first attempt at brewing a stronger beer, then topping up with water at the end of the boil to achieve my target OG. The idea being that I can produce even more beer, even though I am currently limited by boil kettle size. This worked out quite well… perhaps too well. Rather than use just plain water I decided to sparge a little extra wort into a pale, and since water evaporates during the boil I could just add this to my kettle near the end of the boil.
The only issue with this is that it completely threw off my efficiency calculations. It wasn’t apparent at first, but when my ‘undiluted’ wort OG was 1.060, it meant that my diluted OG would only be 1.056 or so. My target OG was 1.050… Woops. I also missed my mash temp by 2 degrees (too low), which means slightly greater fermentability – in other words lighter body, drier, and a higher ABV. This should yield an interesting result as this will alter the hop balance and the beer character considerably.
For batch 2 I realized my equipment was cooler than I had originally calculated strike water temperatures for, and adjusted as appropriate. The mash temp was right on, and held surprisingly steady.
Since I didn’t run my dilution calculations until after both batches were complete, I used the same dilution technique for my second batch – a Fuller’s ESB clone. This beer also marked the largest grain bill I have ever used in my converted-keg mash tun – 29.5 pounds. Exciting stuff.
My target OG for this one was 1.055… AFTER I diluted my wort I had an OG of 1.07. Clearly, my efficiency had increased significantly with this method. Also, my sparge was incrediably slow for this batch, and that may have had an effect on my efficiency. After the fact I calculated that my brewhouse efficiency (that is, how much potential sugars are in the grain bill vs. how much of these sugars actually end up in your fermentor) as over 86%. Ridiculous. My ‘Extra Special Bitter’ is probably now in an a ‘English Old Ale’ style category.
I am upset that my beers didn’t go exactly as planned – as it is always rewarding to be right on target for gravities, but I am also happy to have achieved such high efficiency. I will likely use this technique in the future, as I am able to get 1 gallon more into the fermentor and for the greater efficiency… win-win.